Give them a chipset, and they'll give you a motherboard.  However, it doesn't end there for Shuttle, they brought perfection to their 440LX based Pentium II design with the HOT-637 and this time around, armed with Intel's BX chipset, Shuttle is aiming for perfection just a few weeks after the initial BX wave hit the market. 

Quality, reliability, and stability are the factors Shuttle concentrates on most when aiming for perfection in a product.  This "unique" approach to manufacturing is what has earned Shuttle the praise of many and the AnandTech Best Overall award time and time again.  Can Shuttle pull through in a seemingly equal world of BX motherboards?  They have done it before, let's see if they can do it again.


Anand Tech Report Card Rating
95/A

Motherboard Specifications

CPU Interface Slot-1
Chipset Intel 440BX
L2 Cache N/A (on-chip)
Form Factor ATX
Bus Speeds 66 / 75 / 83 / 100 / 112MHz
Clock Multipliers 2.0x - 5.0x
Voltages Supported 1.5v - 3.5v (Auto Detect)
Memory Slots 4 168pin DIMM Slots (EDO/SDRAM)
Expansion Slots 1 AGP Slot
4 PCI Slots
3 ISA Slots (1 Shared / 3 Full Length)
BIOS Award PnP BIOS

The Good

Unpacking the attractive Shuttle - Spacewalker box you will go through a layer of the standard bundle consisting of IDE cables, a CPU retention kit, a Installations Guide, and a drivers CD-ROM before ever feasting your eyes upon the typical Shuttle Slot-1 mainboard.  The board is well laid out, with key components evenly spaced by high quality capacitors along critical circuits such as those around the Pentium II's SEC and the BX PCI Bridge Chip.  Separating the 4 low profile DIMM slots from the BX chipset, which features a forest green heatsink to improve heat dissipation, is an external 6-chip Texas Instruments DRAM Buffer.  This buffer, like the one found on the ABIT BX6, is intended to maintain clarity and consistency of the electrical signal passing through the RAM when all 4 DIMM slots are in use.  If you plan on using the 641P for a High End server system, this feature may be just what you're looking for. 

Virtually perpendicular to the DIMM slots is the ATX Power Supply connector which remains out of the way of any major components as to prevent any possible installation problems, the connector itself is surrounded by 4 mid-sized Sanyo capacitors to help regulate the current sent out from your case's Power Supply.  On the opposite end of the board we see the common 4/3/1 (PCI/ISA/AGP) expansion slot configuration, which should be enough for most users while it may be pushing it for others.  The beauty of the 641P's design is the lack of any cramped areas on the board that obstruct one or more of the expansion slots or connectors, an often overlooked benefit that is becoming increasingly more popular on ATX motherboards.

Printed on the board itself is a table of extremely easy to read Jumper Settings for the Clock Multiplier jumper block on the 641P, the settings are of course, also echoed in the traditional Shuttle Installations Guide as well as the CD-ROM Manual.  The Installations Guide, for those of you that aren't familiar with Shuttle's documentation, is a well put together pamphlet that guides you through the initial setup and configuration of your system to the point where the full User's Manual can be accessed off of your CD-ROM drive.  The bundled CD-ROM includes much more than just a manual, it provides you with the Intel Bus Master Drivers, the Windows 95 PCI Bridge Patch, as well as documentation and BIOS upgrades for virtually all recently released Shuttle products.  Absent from the documentation are the jumper settings for the Front Side Bus clock on the motherboard, the reason for this is because the FSB speed is controlled within the Award BIOS Setup and is selectable from a list ranging from 66MHz - 112MHz including the 75/83MHz overclocked settings.

Stability and performance are what we've come to expect from Shuttle, however with BX motherboards, performance is definitely not a factor as most boards perform within about 1 - 2% of each other.  In lieu of this, AnandTech has foregone listing raw benchmark numbers, instead a new ranking system is used to compare the Shuttle's performance relative to others in its class.  A worthy successor to their highly successful LX mainboard series, Shuttle has managed to produce a BX board just short of winning the Best Overall BX Award as a result of its overclocking limitations in comparison to the current title holder, the AOpen AX6B.

The Bad

Just a few minor things Shuttle overlooked when designing the HOT-641P:

  • The board auto-detects whether or not you have a 66MHz FSB Pentium II processor, and properly enables/disables support for the 100MHz+ FSB settings

  • There is no 133MHz FSB setting

 


Recommended SDRAM

Recommended SDRAM: Corsair PC100 SDRAM; Memory Man PC100 SDRAM
SDRAM Tested: 1 x 64MB Corsair PC100 SDRAM; 1 x 64MB Memory-Man PC100 SDRAM

Manufacturer: Corsair Microsystems
Purchase Web-Site: http://www.tccomputers.com/

Manufacturer: The Memory Man
Purchase Web-Site: http://www.memory-man.com

 


The Test

In recent times, choosing a motherboard cannot be completely determined by a Winstone score. Now, many boards come within one Winstone point of each other and therefore the need to benchmark boards against each other falls. Therefore you shouldn't base your decision entirely on the benchmarks you see here, but also on the technical features and advantages of this particular board, seeing as that will probably make the greatest difference in your overall experience.

How I Tested

  • Each benchmark was run a minimum of 2 times and a maximum of 5 times, if the motherboard failed to complete a single test within the 5 allocated test runs the OS/Software was re-installed on a freshly formatted Hard Drive and the BIOS settings were adjusted to prevent the test from failing again.  All such encounters were noted at the exact time of their occurrence.

  • Business Winstone 98 was run at each individually tested clock speed, if reliable scores were achieved with the first two test runs of the suite an average of the two was taken and recorded as the final score at that clock speed.  If the test system displayed erratic behavior while the tests were running or the results were incredibly low/high the tests were re-run up to 5 times and an average of all the test runs was taken and recorded at the final score at that clock speed

  • After each motherboard was tested a complete format of the test hard drive was initiated and the OS/benchmarking software was re-installed afterwards a defragment was initiated using Windows 95's Disk Defragmentation Utility

  • Tests using AGP Video cards were run under Winstone 97 and Winstone 98

  • No foreign drivers were present in the test system other than those required for the system to function to the best of its ability

  • All foreign installation files were moved to a separate partition during the test as to prevent them from effecting the test results

  • All tests were conducted at 800 x 600 x 256 colors

Test Configuration

Processor(s): Pentium II - 333 OEM
Pentium II - 400 OEM
RAM: 1 - 64MB Corsair PC100 SDRAM DIMM
1 - 64MB Memory Man PC100 SDRAM DIMM
Hard Drive(s): Western Digital Caviar AC21600H
Video Card(s): Matrox Millennium II (4MB WRAM - AGP)
Bus Master Drivers: Intel v3.01.01
Video Drivers: MGA Millennium 4.03.00.3410
Operation System(s): Windows 95 Service Release 2.1

 


The Final Decision

Once again Shuttle has stepped up and brought overall quality to the market with a down right decent BX motherboard, the HOT-641P is as good a choice as any unless you are aiming to push your limits with the 133MHz FSB in which case AOpen has your answer.

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